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Tearing Down Barriers: helping employees access mental health care

Big Health is launching a 4-part series called Tearing Down Barriers — we're inviting benefits teams to help improve employee access to mental health care.

Do you know someone who struggled with their mental health… and never got care? They’re not alone: 70% of people with a mental health condition do not receive care and suffer in silence.1 Hold on, it gets worse… for those who do seek care, the average delay between the onset of mental health symptoms and receiving care is 11 years.2

Can you imagine if 70% of people with a physical health condition, like cancer, didn’t receive care  — or were as delayed in seeking it — for the same reasons?

Today, we’re launching a 4-part series called Tearing Down Barriers.

Big Health is inviting benefits teams to take a stand and directly help improve employee access to mental health care.

Join us: together, let’s raise our voices to help steer these statistics in the right direction and tear down the faulty belief that seeking help for mental health is a sign of weakness.

Over the next several months we’ll be sharing industry-tested tactics across four webinars and reports — all focused on helping your team address the most common barriers that prevent employees from accessing mental health care.

To humanize the beliefs, feelings, and behaviors of a silent sufferer, we’ll also share elements of Helen’s story along the way:

It all began when she missed an alarm and slept through a doctor’s appointment. When she called the office to explain, the office demanded: “you missed the appointment, so we cannot reschedule — find another doctor.”

This event triggered 40 years of anxiety & worry around sleep, manifesting into a long journey of sleeplessness and poor mental health…

Take a quick look at the four barriers:

Barrier 1: Low perceived need
The silent sufferer: “I thought this was just part of life.”

This is the most prevalent barrier to care, and it stems from a core misunderstanding: that mental health symptoms are just “part of life.” Before employees can recognize a need for help, they have to first understand that a path to “better” even exists.

Register for the webinar now: learn how a Fortune 100 retail company helped alter this belief by normalizing mental health discussions — and speaking to the lived experience of their employees.

Barrier 2: The desire to self-help
“I’d prefer to handle this on my own.”

Even if employees do recognize a need for help, talking to someone is hardly ever the first thing they want to do. This is the second-most common barrier, and it’s often an issue of “no tools available” — beyond books and online articles, few employees have access to comprehensive, validated mental health resources to self-help.

Understand the role that concise communication and fully-automated digital therapeutics can play in catering to your employees’ needs to manage their symptoms independently… before looking to others for help.

Barrier 3: Stigma
“What if someone finds out?”

At stigma’s core is an employee’s fear: that coworkers will judge, that their job will be at risk, or that seeking care somehow makes them seem “weak.” Stigma takes hold when your employees don’t believe that mental health is an “okay” topic to discuss (or be dealing with) at work.

Explore the steps a Fortune 10 pharmacy took to tackle stigma by gaining executive and peer support from across the organization—and the amazing results they saw.

Barrier 4: Access
“I don’t have time (or money) for care”

Even after overcoming all three previous barriers, an employee may decide to seek care and find themselves unable, due to time, money, or convenience. Not to mention that many practitioners are not accepting new clients.

A California based University worked to remove this barrier by bringing 1:1 health coaching onsite. Employees could discuss their health goals and get personalized recommendations on available benefit resources—offering a near guarantee that all employees are at least informed about their benefits.

Wondering where to start?

One of the most immediate and effective ways for employers to give a voice to the silent sufferers is by providing evidence-based, stigma-free solutions that encourage self-help.

Daylight and Sleepio provide a 24 hour solution to poor mental health as an efficient first step in care.

Our solution creates an experience that leverages the power of personalization, the intimacy of voice, and the delight of design to engage people in healthy behavior change.

Interested in helping your employees overcome these barriers? We’re always here to chat, answer questions, or just talk strategy:


1 Mojtabai, R., et al. (2011). Barriers to Mental Health Treatment: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Psychological Medicine, 41(8), 1751-1761

2 Mental Health By The Numbers. (2019, September). Retrieved from

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During the COVID-19 public health emergency, Sleepio and Daylight are being made available as treatments for insomnia disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), respectively, without a prescription. Sleepio and Daylight have not been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of insomnia disorder and GAD, respectively.

1. Qaseem, A., Kansagara, D., Forciea, M. A., Cooke, M., & Denberg, T. D. (2016). Management of chronic insomnia disorder in adults: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine, 165(2), 125-133.2. Riemann, D., Baglioni, C., Bassetti, C., Bjorvatn, B., Dolenc Groselj, L., Ellis, J. G., … & Spiegelhalder, K. (2017). European guideline for the diagnosis and treatment of insomnia. Journal of Sleep Research, 26(6), 675-700.3. Wilson, S., Anderson, K., Baldwin, D., Dijk, D. J., Espie, A., Espie, C., … & Sharpley, A. (2019). British Association for Psychopharmacology consensus statement on evidence-based treatment of insomnia, parasomnias and circadian rhythm disorders: an update. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 33(8), 923-947.4. King’s Technology Evaluation Centre. (2017, November 9). Overview: Health app: SLEEPIO for adults with poor Sleep: Advice. NICE. Espie, C. A., Kyle, S. D., Williams, C., Ong, J. C., Douglas, N. J., Hames, P., & Brown, J. S. (2012). A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of online cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic insomnia disorder delivered via an automated media-rich web application. Sleep, 35(6), 769-781.6. Carl, J. R., Miller, C. B., Henry, A. L., Davis, M. L., Stott, R., Smits, J. A., … & Espie, C. A. (2020). Efficacy of digital cognitive behavioral therapy for moderate‐to‐severe symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Depression and Anxiety, 37(12), 1168-1178.

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